The US government has placed spyware vendors Cytrox and Intellexa on its trade restrictions list due to their involvement in trafficking cyber exploits, limiting their access to American technology. The US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) specifically targeted the two companies for their development of surveillance tools that pose potential risks of human rights abuse.
The BIS added four entities related to Cytrox and Intellexa, based in Greece, Hungary, Ireland, and North Macedonia, to the Entity List, subjecting them to export and licensing restrictions, effectively impeding meaningful trade between them and the US.
Cytrox, known for its association with the Predator spyware, has been linked to spying activities on dissidents and political figures by certain governments. Additionally, Meta has accused Cytrox of being involved in mass hacking campaigns. Intellexa operates as a marketing alliance, selling spyware to governments globally, and it is part of the Intellexa Alliance, which includes Cytrox.
Both companies were founded by Tal Dilian, a former general in Israeli military intelligence, who faced suspicions of involvement in funds mismanagement, leading to his resignation.
The US government’s decision to restrict trade with these spyware vendors is rooted in concerns about the proliferation and misuse of commercial surveillance tools, including spyware, which pose significant security risks to the United States, facilitate repression, and enable human rights abuses. The addition of Cytrox and Intellexa to the trade restrictions list aims to curb potential abuse of surveillance technology and safeguard national security interests.
Previously, the notorious NSO Group, an Israeli maker of Pegasus spyware, was also listed as a company posing a national security risk to the United States, signaling the government’s commitment to address cyber threats effectively.